A Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces

It’s now Saturday March 26th. Kia ora!

This morning I listen to various podcasts about Russian history and US politics. I learn that in New Zealand Canterbury is under severe pressure from Covid 19. The 1 pm report is the worst for deaths so far – there have been 20 in the past 24 hours, including that of someone in their 40’s. The total of new cases is 14,175, and there are 841 people in hospital, with 27 of them in Intensive Care.

Of those who died, one was in their 40s, one in their 50s, three in their 60s, five in their 70s, six people in their 80s, and three in their 90s. Most of the deaths were from Auckland – with six deaths. Five were from Waikato and two were from Mid Central, while one death each was recorded in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Nelson Marlborough. We’re not given details of the locations of the new cases.

It’s reported that today is the first day of the relaxed rules, including no gathering limits for outdoor activities and events, as well as an increased 200-person limit for indoor gatherings. There is also no longer any requirement to scan in or for a business to display a QR code poster. Some of us felt a degree of protection given by these rules.

Yesterday was Sunday March 27th, a day of rest.

I woke up early and then went back to sleep, not waking until 9:10 am. That’s late for me! Although I was very glad of the extra sleep, I felt quite discombobulated. At 10 am I zoomed into St Anne’s service. It was lovely, and I feel I’m getting to know some of the lovely people there. 

I made some notes, but other than that, I didn’t blog. China Covid 19 cases in Shanghai. UK 1 m cases today. Kherson taken back. Russian troops from Georgia.

On Sunday there were only 10,239 new case reported, and 4 deaths.

In the early evening I learnt that my daughter’s second RAT test was negative, as were the RAT tests for all the residents, so that’s a big relief.

Monday’s Covid 19 figures weren’t so bad: there were officially 12,882 new community cases of Covid-19, 861 hospitalisations and 11 deaths reported.

It’s now Tuesday March 29th.

I’ve been distracted (by family!)  Today’s Covid 19 is quite bad, after not so bad reports for the last two days – so much so that some organisations are starting up their activities again. Today there are officially 17,148 new cases, and there have been 34 deaths (over the past 10 days). There is now a total of 303 deaths. There are 842 people in hospital, and 26 of them are in Intensive Care. That figure of 34 deaths seems much higher than we’ve been used to. 24 of these people were over 70. It seems that Christchurch is taking over from Auckland as the Covid 19 capital of New Zealand.  I get a newsletter from Radio New Zealand each day, but sometimes Covid 19 is not even mentioned. Schools are still being badly affected by Covid 19.

In Victoria, it’s reported that Daniel Andrews, the Premier, has tested positive for Covid 19.

This morning I learn from the UK’s Guardian that Roman Abramovich, one of the negotiators, thinks he and a Ukrainian counterpart have been poisoned (not in Russia). This story is very confusing – I read the reporting several times, and I’m still confused. Another new website (the NZ Herald) says that Abramovich jetted between Moscow, Istanbul and Kyiv. Well, I doubt if you can fly to Kyiv, even in a private jet, at present; and why would Istanbul (Turkey) be involved? There are more questions than answers here.

It’s now Wednesday March 30th.

This  morning I went to hymn singing. It was lovely, as always. We sang, amongst other things, O for a closer walk with God, and Love Unknown.  I went to the supermarket afterwards, but there are still several things not available there, so it was a bit frustrating.  It was very foggy in Northern Wellington this morning.

It’s reported that the Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennet, has Covid 19. I listened to a report from Dr John Campbell, where he is alarmed at the increase of Covid 19 cases in the British Isles: in England, 1/16 people is positive; in Scotland, it’s 1/11.  I watched various recordings of Prince Philip’s Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey, and I saw no masks worn there, although Dr Campbell saw one. The odious Prince Andrew escorted the Queen into the church, although he did not sit beside her. Hey, whatever one may think, Prince Philip was his father too.  The person who wasn’t there was Prince Harry (and Prince Philip walked beside him and his brother Prince William at princess Diana’s funeral). The attendance which did shock me was that of the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. He showed up as shambolic as ever. He hadn’t even bothered to comb his hair. And what was he doing last year, when Prince Philip died, and only 30 people could attend his funeral? Oh, he was having a party at Downing St. I’m sure he doesn’t recall it – oh wasn’t there an apology to Her Majesty?  A very poor show, if you ask me.

In Shanghai, a city of 26 million people, there are partial lockdowns and the authorities plan to test the entire city for Covid 19. It was reported on Tuesday that there were more than 2,600 new infections, after just a handful in early March. On the strength of this lockdown, the price of oil fell.

In New Zealand, today, there are 15,918 new cases of Covid 19, and a further 14 deaths. There are 817 people in hospital, and 24 in Intensive Care.  The numbers of new cases were much reduced at the weekend, prompting some organisations to restart their (paused) activities again; but the number of deaths is still alarming, as is the numbers not at school at present. JD and I both got texts inviting us to make appointments to have our free flu vaccinations; I’m wondering where they will hold them, this year. Perhaps in the Johnsonville Mall? Of the deaths, four were from the Auckland region; four from Waikato; one from Lakes, one from Wellington, one from Nelson Marlborough, one from Canterbury, one from South Canterbury and one from Southern. Five people were in their 70s, six in their 80s and three were in their 90s. One was female and 13 were male.

There were new community cases in: Northland (634), Auckland (2691), Waikato (1508), Bay of Plenty (987), Lakes (438), Hawke’s Bay (892), MidCentral (851), Whanganui (399), Taranaki (649), Tairāwhiti (183), Wairarapa (152), Capital & Coast (1054), Hutt Valley (599), Nelson Marlborough (605), Canterbury (2535), South Canterbury (293), Southern (1386), West Coast (55); and seven in unknown locations.

After all the fuss, the new Transmission Gully route is now officially open. A Māori blessing has been performed, and I assume we’re good to go, until the complaints start coming through.  I must admit I find some of the blessings of inanimate objects a little strange (and perhaps unnecessary, to me, anyway).

I’ve been insisting on watching The Gilded Age on Tuesday nights, but there wasn’t a new episode last night – there are just 9 episodes in Series One; apparently. I should have realised. Instead, we watched the movie 9 Minutes to Midnight, a preposterous story but evidently based on true events. Really, Dame Judi Dench, why, one wonders, do you lower yourself to do this kind of thing?  On Sunday evening we watched The Straight Story on Māori television, directed by David Lynch.  I had not seen it when it was on release.  What a strange film! Again, it was based on true events, just going to prove that reality really can be stranger than fiction.  The colours were odd, in a Stanley Kubrick kind of way; what upset me the most was the dreadful poverty, especially of Alvin’s brother Lyle. 

I have finished reading The Suitcase again. It’s been nice to borrow the book from the library; I read three excerpts in the LRB, but it’s much nicer (and less confusing) to read the actual book.  What a story it is!  It reminds me how chaotic some European lives were during the two World Wars and afterwards.

This brings me back to the dreadfully sad situation in Ukraine, where, although the Russian forces are demonstrably failing against the Ukrainians, Putin has “won”, in that he holds dreadful weapons – nuclear, chemical, thermobaric – and threatens to use them.  I sincerely doubt that he’s going to rebuild the homes and facilities that he’s destroyed.  So – even if he doesn’t get everything he wants, he’ll no doubt get some of it, and will at some stage declare victory and move on.

There seems to be no doubt that his armed forces were seriously unprepared for what has eventuated: were his people  telling him lies, because that’s what he wanted to hear? He’s lost several generals (6?) and senior commanders; you have to wonder what they were doing, being in harm’s way.  Much of the equipment has been damaged by Ukrainians, and it seems much of it wasn’t in good shape to start with. Evidently there’ve been problems with supplies, food and fuel, and the Russians aren’t even repatriating their dead servicemen, unless they’re generals, of course.  Other nations around Ukraine are worried –  who’ll be next?  And there’s a huge refugee problem.  So how do you stop this machine?  President Zelensky still makes daily broadcasts begging the West to do more to help, but it seems, while suffering is dreadful, the Ukrainians are doing all right against the Russian bear.  It seems the Russians are putting out peace feelers –  and the west is duly sceptical, as well they might be. Last night it was reported that Putin was sending 1,000 mercenaries to Ukraine.

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

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