A Pyrrhic Victory

Representation of a Pyrrhic Victory

It’s now Friday May 6, 2022. Kia ora.

I’m receiving a Morning Briefing from the New York Times, which I’ve recently signed up for. Unfortunately, I can’t keep it or save it; I get an alert in the morning; once I move away from that image, I haven’t figured out a way to go back to it. But it’s very informative; I find it most useful.

The briefing tells me that in Ukraine, Mariupol is still holding out, with 200 civilians in the Azovstal steel plane there, and some Ukrainian troops. The rest of the civilians have been evacuated. A former employee told the Russians how to get into the plant, which has rambling networks of underground tunnels and bunkers. Desperate hand-to-hand fighting is going on there, I gather.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have reclaimed a village near Kharkiv, and thus pushed Russian forces back and prevented their access. This is seen as a strategic move. India is reported to be buying oil from Russia at low prices. In Iraq, there is a terrible dust storm.

In China, there’s a lot of Covid 19 testing going on – presumably, it’s PCR testing. China is clinging to its covid-zero policy, despite unrest in Shanghai; it’s citizens aren’t allowed out of their homes to protest.

In the US, a sub-variant of the BA.2 variant of the omicron variant of Covid 19 is known as BA2.12.1, apparently. It seems that while several people were infected with Covid 19 after a grid-iron dinner, several more became infected after the White House Correspondent’s dinner. I do hope President Biden doesn’t get this – although if Nancy Pelosi and HM Queen Elizabeth can get it and recover, I guess there’s hope for Joe Biden.

There’s ongoing anger at the Supreme Court (draft) decision to rescind Roe v Wade, allowing legal abortion in the US; it’s now feared that they’ll go after not only abortion medication, but also contraceptives themselves.  Back to the future, girls and women;  how many supposed rights did we win, only to see them being dismantled – politically correct speech, while frustrating, was far better than “free speech”; violence is not, ever, ok; scientists can make mistakes but their proofs are far safer than hunches or hearsay; and many of us preferred some segregation – having separate restrooms, or hospital wards. I remember the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where they had blue or pink above each rest room. You could choose to be female or male, but not both, at the same time. I thought that was very clever.

Today’s Covid 19 report was better than the last two days, but there are still far too many deaths. There were 7,347 new cases, and 24 deaths.

It’s reported that of today’s deaths, two people were in their 40s; one in their 50s, one in their 60s; seven in their 70s; eight in their 80s and five were aged over 90. The latest deaths spanned the country with one person was from Northland, eight from Auckland; four from Waikato; one from Bay of Plenty; one from Lakes DHB area; one from Taranaki; one from MidCentral; two from the Greater Wellington region; two from Canterbury and three from the Southern region. Thirteen were female and 11 were male. The total is now 845 deaths.

There are 363 people in hospital with the virus, including 18 in intensive care. Today’s breakdown of people in hospital with Covid across New Zealand included Northland: 11; Waitemata: 40; Counties Manukau: 37; Auckland: 60; Waikato: 31; Bay of Plenty: 20; Lakes: 3; Tairāwhiti: 0; Hawke’s Bay: 15; Taranaki: 6; Whanganui: 4; MidCentral: 14; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 3; Capital and Coast: 10; Nelson Marlborough: 11; Canterbury: 66; South Canterbury: 4; West Coast: 1 and Southern: 26. The average age of Covid patients in hospital is 57. This has been consistent so far.

It’s reported that new community cases of Covid-19 were detected in: Northland (234), Auckland (2346), Waikato (443), Bay of Plenty (189), Lakes (106), Hawke’s Bay (212), MidCentral (272), Whanganui (83), Taranaki (226), Tairāwhiti (66), Wairarapa (100), Capital and Coast (482), Hutt Valley (185), Nelson Marlborough (254), Canterbury (1261), South Canterbury (99), Southern (721), West Coast (64), and four in unknown locations.

It’s now Saturday May 7th.

The news is confirmed that Ukrainian forces have sunk another Russian ship; that they have probably made some attacks in Russia itself, such as Belgorov; there are further efforts to evacuate remining citizens in Mariupol; and that fierce fighting continues in Mariupol, but the Ukrainians have not surrendered, so far.

Today’s Covid 19 report is slightly better than in previous days, although it’s hard to find, now. There are officially 6,745 new community cases, and there have been 12 deaths. There are 339 people in hospital, including 15 in Intensive Care. We’re not told where the new infections are.

It’s now Sunday May 8th.

Unusually, I am woken by the alarm on my phone. I get JD to make a video of me opening my daughter’s present.  There is a beautiful mug, with a beautiful card and some fudge and a sachet of a gingerbread and chocolate flavoured drink – you just add water and stir.  I load the video into Storypark, but when I look later it’s not there, so I load it again.  There was a phone call from her too, but she doesn’t say much – I think she enjoys hearing the sound of my voice.  I went to church, and the minister has diagnosed positive for Covid 19, so again he’s refining his televangelist skills. He does it very well, although he did sound a bit hoarse. We were given flowers and pins to pin them to our clothes.  Actually his wife had Covid 19 just a few weeks ago (perhaps back in March?) There were barely twenty people physically at church. We heard about Tabitha/Dorcas, a female disciple, and then more from the book of Revelation. There was a special morning tea afterwards, to honour the fact that everyone has a mother, but I didn’t go, partly because I wanted to catch a bus home, and partly because I am due to see one of my granddaughters this evening, and therefore I want to limit my exposure. I did go to the supermarket to get some wrapping paper and a bereavement card, and found it very busy. Then I went to catch my bus, only to find it had been cancelled. Plan B was to catch the train, and I walked to the station, only to find I’d just missed the one I’d hoped to catch. So it was a long, slow, journey home, with lots of waiting – but not too cold.

Before the 1 pm Covid 19 report comes out, I learn that Prime Minister Ardern is to isolate at home for 7 days, because her partner, Clarke Gayford, has Covid 19. Today’s report is not too bad, with 5,647 new community cases, but only 3 deaths. There are 350 in hospital, (17 of them in Intensive Care) but the BA.5 variant (I didn’t know there was such a thing) has been detected at the border (again, in a person who had travelled from South Africa).  The BA.4 variant was detected on May 1, also in a person from South Africa.

It’s reported that the arrival of the BA.5 sub-variant in New Zealand is not unexpected and underlines the importance of the rapid antigen testing of all arrivals at day 0/1 and day 5/6 followed by a PCR test of any arrivals who test positive which then allows whole genome sequencing to be done. So now we know.

It’s reported that today’s New Zealand cases are in Northland (129), Auckland (1895), Waikato (353), Bay of Plenty (143), Lakes (77), Hawke’s Bay (176), Mid Central (184), Whanganui (69), Taranaki (131), Tairāwhiti (30), Wairarapa (67), Capital and Coast (424), Hutt Valley (206), Nelson Marlborough (189), Canterbury (914), South Canterbury (83), Southern (523), West Coast (51), Unknown (3). The numbers reported today show that the seven-day rolling average of daily cases has increased slightly since last Sunday. Today the average is 7510; last Sunday it was 7414.

Today it’s reported that all remaining women and children have been evacuated from Mariupol, from the steel plant. The ship that was sunk was the Admiral Makarov. A drone is reported to have struck a landing craft at Snake island.    

In the evening we visited a granddaughter on her birthday, and set up and played the game we had given her. We had a lovely time. How nice that her birthday fell on Mother’s Day this time!  Almost nine tears ago, my eldest granddaughter was born on the (then) Mother’s Day.

It’s now Monday May 9th.

The main things in the news are the war in Ukraine, (and Putin’s Victory Day celebration on May 9), and the US Supreme Court’s decision that they intend  to reverse Roe v Wade, which had made abortion legal in the US for almost 50 years (since 1973).  As discussions go on, with shock and horror, there is no mention whatsoever of a man’s role in most conceptions, certainly in the majority of pregnancies requiring termination. Surely a man is involved, and should be just as committed to raising the potential child as a women is. But they are so extreme in the US. Some states have trigger laws that will go into effect immediately when Roe v Wade is overturned, permitting almost no exceptions – rape, incest, maternal health, anyone? – to this cruelty. Protesters see it as likely that the abortion pill will be banned, as will contraception.  The feelings of women have no place in this discussion, much less the wrong performed by the male who created this situation. As in the past, white women who can afford the procedure will probably be all right, although technically they’ll be  committing a crime; poorer and/or  black women, the most likely victims of rape, are to bear the child (and the consequences) regardless.  I’m not personally in favour of abortion, but I think it should be safe and legal whenever it happens: a decision between a woman, her God, her doctor, and her family. What monsters these older men are, who think it’s their decision to restrict others’ “freedoms”. I agree with those who think the authority of and respect for the Supreme Court is already much diminished, and will be further so by this decision. Of course it’s not really a surprise, but, like the invasion of Ukraine, it’s shocking when it happens.

In Ukraine, bombing has occurred at a school in Eastern Ukraine, killing 60 civilians, including children. Dr Jill Biden has visited Ukraine.

I am rereading Stalingrad, the huge novel by Russian Jew Vasily Grossman about the Hitler’s attack on Russia, culminating in the deadly battle of Stalingrad. It’s s kind of companion volume to Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  But while this tells of what seems like the Germans’ inexorable advance eastward, I’ve been listening to lots pf podcasts, many about the history of Ukraine, and the progress of the current conflict, but also talking about the disastrous Operation Barbarossa, and how the Germans kept on winning for a time but were massively unprepared for the conditions they would find, and the Russian resistance: this was to prove very strong, and the Russians had the powerful T42 tank and an air force, and despite Stalin’s purges, they were prepared to die, and fought very strongly. To a German, to be sent to the Eastern front was disastrous.  Putin’s current Special Military Operation into Ukraine is being seen as similarly ill-fated, ill-prepared, and not thought-through-properly, although like Hitler’s troops’ movements in the 1940’s, very destructive and brutal indeed. Putin, on the other hand, is also being compared to Stalin, in many of his actions, particularly the way Stalin had treated Ukraine in the 1930’s.  One recent cartoon quipped what if Stalin and Hitler had a baby?

Today’s Covid 19 report wasn’t too bad, although I was prepared for a worse one, given that several people I know have Covid 19 – closer to me than I’m comfortable with. Today there are 6,407 new cases, and two more deaths. That’s considerably less than we’ve been used to for the last few days. There are 368 people in hospital, and 18 in Intensive Care.  Today’s detailed information is not readily available. Three people (incoming passengers from South Africa) have now been diagnosed with the BA.5 omicron subvariant of Covid 19.

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

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