The Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?

Today is Wednesday May 4th, 2022. Kia ora.

This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing. It was beautiful – we sang the famous Easter hymn (Christ the Lord is risen today), Blessed Assurance, and Thine be the Glory.  Afterwards I got brave and had morning tea at a café – a long black coffee, and a date scone. Afterwards I caught a bus into town, and bought a birthday present for another granddaughter. Then I caught buses home.

In the US, the 28 page Supreme Court draft opinion by Samuel Alito, on reversing the “egregious” decision to allow legal abortion, dominates newspapers and podcasts.  It’s pointed out that abortion was never in the US Constitution; that it has been a right since 1973; and furthermore, what “right” does this unelected body, the Supreme Court, have to withdraw an existing right? There are big fears that this will lead to complete bans on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, or danger to the mother’s life; that it will lead to further difficulties in obtaining contraception or abortion tablets; that it will outlaw gay marriage.  People know that abortion will take place, in any case;  surely it should be safe and legal?  I expect that we will have to answer to God for our decisions in this life. Marina Hyde in the UK’s Guardian writes very well under the following title: Through the Trumpian Looking Glass, forcing women to die from illegal abortions is “pro-life”.   

Now that the right-wing have got what they’ve been campaigning for, for years, are they rejoicing?  I haven’t seen any celebrations, so far.  Perhaps the protesting is more fun than winning?  What effects will this leaked opinion have on the mid-term elections?  This opinion is dated February 28. That’s ages ago! We all suspected they were heading this way.

As it turns out, the only person publicly celebrating was Marjorie Taylor Greene. Mitch McConnell was disgusted that the draft opinion had been leaked, and thinks a witch hunt should get underway to find out who leaked the document,

One wonders just why the Right everywhere are so determined to give women a hard time: you’d almost think they didn’t have mothers themselves, but were conceived and raised in petri-dishes. Some one probably endured a great deal of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, general discomfort, needing to pee a lot, and labour pains to various degrees, and that was just before the birth. Then you’ve got swollen breasts, cracked nipples, the need to get one’s figure back, colic, teething, croup, childhood ailments, ongoing fatigue and safety issues, as the child grows up, into a teenager, and then an adult, who is likely to tell you that you’ve done all this wrong. Who’d be a woman?  Who indeed? Well, it’s a privilege to have children, in my view, and they can turn out amazingly well, despite the sacrifices. I was fortunate in that I was able to give birth to wonderful children who have grown into clever and admirable adults and are now having beautiful children of their own.  I’m thankful that while their lives could have been better, they could have been a lot worse.

There’s been a great deal of shocked reaction to this “draft” opinion, which was dated at the end of February and apparently was voted on; of course, with the majority of justices being safely conservative, the majority decision was that it should be overthrown (note it hasn’t been overthrown yet).  There are protests across the US; this has a very “Handmaid’s Tale” feel about it. There are certainly some wonderful fathers around, and their support is greatly valued, but by and large mothers bear the discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth, especially the physical ones, whether or not the outcome is successful in terms of a giving birth to a healthy, normal child. In fact, one usually feels like an incubus, the pregnancy so takes over one’s body.

This morning I listened the Bulwark podcast. Of course, they are obsessed with the Roe v Wade draft opinion (it’s not a decision as yet), but the latter part of the podcast I found very amusing. I didn’t see Benjamin Wittes as a demonstrator (although his Brookings Institute was on Nixon’s enemies list), but this was very funny. He and some others hired a lighting firm to project the Blue and Yellow Ukrainian flag onto the Russian Embassy building in Washington DC. The Russians tried to use spotlights to hide it; the light operator kept moving the projection. The Secret Service helped the demonstrators.  Ben says there’s something further planned for May 9th. It’ll be Witte (he says, punning on It’ll be Wild). Here’s a link:

I was going to rejoin my singing group on Thursday mornings for term 2 (we cancelled term 1) tomorrow, but having seen today’s Covid 19 report, I’m not so sure that I’ll go. Today’s report is not good, with 8,454 new community cases, and 24 deaths, including a child under 10. These deaths include 12 people who died in the last three days, and 12 people who died since March 5.  One assumes that you seriously don’t want to be so sick that you have to go to hospital, since it seems you’re likely to get Covid 19 there; or perhaps there are deaths from rest home residents. There are 481 people in hospital, including 14 in Intensive Care. I still feel very vulnerable with this amount of illness around.

Of the deaths, it’s reported that one was aged under 10; one was between 10 and 19 years old, two were in their 40s, one in their 50s, two in their 60s, nine in their 70s, five in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Nine of the deceased were from Auckland, four from Waikato, two from Bay of Plenty, one from Whanganui, one from MidCentral, two from the Greater Wellington region, three from Canterbury and two from Southern DHB. Seven were female and 17 were male.

It’s reported that there are new community cases reported in  Northland (222), Auckland (2568), Waikato (501), Bay of Plenty (256), Lakes (142), Hawke’s Bay (278), MidCentral (308), Whanganui (102), Taranaki (245), Tairāwhiti (79), Wairarapa (112), Capital and Coast (614), Hutt Valley (231), Nelson Marlborough (281), Canterbury (1418), South Canterbury (106), Southern (900), West Coast (85), and six in unknown locations. There were 54,210 active cases of Covid-19 across the country on Wednesday.  That’s still quite a lot! Most by far are detected by RAT tests.

Officials also reported an additional 124 cases of Covid-19 detected at the border. One wonders how they are tested, since I thought MIQ was over?

In the US, late show host Jimmy Kimmel has Covid 19; here in New Zealand, Minister of Health Andrew Little is now isolating after a family member tested positive.  It’s still very much around.

On the climate front, there’s a warning that in New Zealand sea level rise is likely to come sooner than expected, because much of New Zealand’s coastal areas are sinking as well. It’s warned that many coastal homes may become uninsurable.  In India and Pakistan, they’re battling heat  waves.  It seems to me that while the need for Russian oil and gas is not so great in summertime as in winter time, if it’s very hot people may well wish to use air conditioning units to cool their environments down.

It’s now Thursday May 5th.

My Thursday singing sessions resumed this morning.  There was a good turnout, although many of us are still afraid of Covid 19.  I felt this was a risk I was prepared to take, and having said I’d be there, I was reluctant to change my mind. It was lovely, of course;  lovely to be back and see everyone again. Highlights for me were singing Tutira mai ngā iwi, Mull of Kintyre, and Wild Mountain Thyme.

Today’s Covid 19 report was not good: 8,609 new community cases were reported, and 20 deaths, including that of a child under 10. There are 386 people in hospital, including 14 in Intensive Care.

One of the 20 deaths reported on Thursday was under the age of ten. One was aged in their 50s; five were in their 60s; two were in their 70s; seven were in their 80s and four were aged over 90. Three of the deceased were from Auckland; one was from Waikato; five were from Bay of Plenty; two were from Hawke’s Bay; one was from the Greater Wellington region; one was from Nelson-Marlborough, five were from Canterbury and two were from Southern. Twelve were female and eight were male.

New community cases were reported in: Northland (207), Auckland (2796), Waikato (543), Bay of Plenty (237), Lakes (135), Hawke’s Bay (229), MidCentral (347), Whanganui (104), Taranaki (239), Tairāwhiti (68), Wairarapa (88), Capital and Coast (575), Hutt Valley (242), Nelson Marlborough (323), Canterbury (1379), South Canterbury (114), Southern (900), West Coast (76), and seven in unknown locations. The ministry also reported a further 97 Covid-19 cases detected at the border.

It seems to me that case numbers are going up again, while hospitalisations are falling.  The number of deaths continues to be a concern. Last night I listened to two ABC news podcasts (coronacast) saying that at present we’re dealing with sub-variants of the omicron variant of Covid 19; there could well be other variants yet to come; this might be like the flu, where different strains are common each winter, and ever winter we need a new flu jab. Dr Norman Swan also pointed out that statistically the risk of dying is greater now than it was two years ago, in Australasia, but we have added defences like vaccines, drugs to treat coronavirus, and more effective masks.

There is a new book out called The Palace Papers by Tina Brown.  Stories from it are dribbling out, including a story that Meghan Markle hated every second of her and Prince Harry’s Australasian tour shortly after their dramatic wedding.  Well, she certainly smiled for the cameras, and I doubt that she regretted changing into a new dress three times a day, sometimes forgetting to remove the label.  The New Zealand taxpayers shelled out a princely sum for this tour; I expect the proprietors of the Maranui Café in Wellington’s Lyall Bay aren’t best pleased either; even if you’re with Team Harkle (and I am certainly not), you’d have to be a teensy bit upset, I think, that she didn’t even enjoy the tour. I know there was that incident where she left early, and it was said the heat was too much for her; nevertheless, it would have been good manners if she could have been nice about it all. We (almost) all feel cheated now. I was sceptical when they married, but was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, that it might turn out better than it has; if I were Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s sister, I’d be mightily disappointed not to have met the famous great-grandmother she was supposedly named after.

On Monday evening there are two attractions, requiring some bravery. One is a showing (a film of the Metropolitan Opera in New York) of Mussorgsky’s opera, Boris Godunov, at the Penthouse Theatre, with a special dinner – Chicken Kiev, as well; the other is a concert at St Paul’s Cathedral with members of the NZSO and the Tudor Consort playing – for Ukraine.  Both of these are very tempting – I hope I get to go to one of them.

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

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